The Hay River Curling Club is sharing some of its good fortune from Chase the Ace – the weekly lottery that literally keeps pulling in buckets of money.
Last week, the club’s executive decided that, beginning with the Oct. 14 draw, it would make a weekly donation to the town to help rebuild the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
“So we are glad to announce that for this draw and every subsequent draw until the ace goes we are going to be donating $20,000 per week to the new rec centre,” said Glenn Smith, chair of the curling club’s fundraising committee and the driving force behind the town’s first Chase the Ace, just before making the Oct. 14 draw at the Ptarmigan Inn.
The announcement was greeted with applause from the crowded Doghouse Sports Bar, where a draw is made each Friday evening.
Smith told The Hub the rec centre is a great project that will benefit everyone in the community.
“And obviously that’s a building that we lease space from and had close ties to,” he said. “And we’ve done quite well with Chase the Ace to date.”
Smith also said the curling club executive understands that without a rec centre there is no curling club.
Mayor Brad Mapes welcomed the donation, saying that for the curling club to put money back into the recreation centre project is a great thing.
“For them to be coming forward until the draw is done to give $20,000 on each draw is an amazing gift to our community for the recreation centre,” he said.
Time will tell how much the donation will eventually total.
As of the upcoming draw on Oct. 21, there are only 12 cards left in the deck, and the jackpot will be won when the ace of spades is drawn.
Mapes said it could mean a large sum of money for the rec centre project.
“But even their funds that they’re putting back into the curling club is money that’s invested into our community,” he said. “So it’s a great thing.”
Mapes said the donation will help pay down the debenture for the project, once it is taken out probably next month.
Smith said that, as of the Oct. 14 draw, the curling club has made more than $400,000 in profits from Chase the Ace.
That is far more than the curling club expected when it brought Chase the Ace to Hay River in January.
“It’s rolling the dice, right. You’re not sure what you might get,” said Smith. “The expectation to go this long into the draw, we’re beating the odds. You couldn’t anticipate going this far and having this much success with it. It’s exceeded expectations, for sure.”
Smith said the curling club is also conscious of the community in the process, and has involved a number of businesses in ticket sales – the Ptarmigan Inn, Riverview Cineplex, The Back Eddy restaurant and the Royal Canadian Legion.
That has helped those businesses get people in through their doors on Friday nights and improved their own sales.
“There are a lot of people out and talking, and having beverages and meals, and enjoying the excitement I think associated with it all,” said Smith.
A group will also be hired each week to help prepare the 24,000 to 25,000 tickets – basically tearing rolls into $20 strips of four tickets to make the sales run more smoothly.
“It’s a fair amount of labour required there,” Smith said. “So we’re now getting other community groups and non-profit groups involved with that. We’re offering them $500 per week.”
So far, the travel group at Diamond Jenness Secondary School has prepared tickets to raise some money.
Smith also said Chase the Ace brings many people into Hay River each Friday from places like Fort Resolution, Fort Smith and even High Level, Alta., and they are spending money at various businesses while they are here.
Each Friday night, people can buy $5 tickets for the Chase the Ace draw. The holder of the winning ticket automatically gets a weekly prize and a chance to draw from a deck of cards – placed in a black box – in search of the ace of spades. The person who eventually draws the ace of spades will win a progressive jackpot.
For the draw on Oct. 14, the ticket sales totalled $127,615 – all raised in an hour and a half from when sales began at 6:30 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m.
The total raised each week is divided as follows: 50 per cent to the organization staging the Chase the Ace, 30 per cent to the progressive jackpot and 20 per cent to the weekly prize.
The Oct. 14 jackpot of $268,864 was not won.
The holder of the lucky ticket, Kayla Leishman of Fort Providence, drew the jack of spades.
However, Leishman did win the weekly prize of $25,523.
The weekly prize and the progressive jackpot when added together created a total potential prize of $294,387 on Oct. 14.
On Oct. 21, the jackpot will rise depending on the ticket sales on that date.